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Biotechniques. 1998 Jul;25(1):98-106.

One-step fluorescent probe product-enhanced reverse transcriptase assay.

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Department of Virus and Cell Biology, Merck Research Laboratories, West Point, PA 19486-0004, USA.


Recently developed PCR-based reverse transcriptase (RT) assays are useful in the detection of retroviruses since they are approximately a millionfold more sensitive than conventional RT assays. However, these assays are both labor- and time-intensive. The previously described product-enhanced reverse transcriptase (PERT) assay involves a two-step RT-PCR followed by detection and quantitation of PCR products by either Southern blot or enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA). We have modified the PERT assay to be a one-step, fluorescent probe, PCR-based RT assay that can be completed from sample dilution to final quantitative assay results in approximately 5 h without loss of assay sensitivity or specificity. The assay has a dynamic range of 6 logs, and therefore, extensive sample dilution is not necessary for quantitation. This newly enhanced fluorescent PERT assay can play an important role in the high-throughput detection of retroviral infection and characterization of RT activity.

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